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    Private GP Services & Occupational Healthcare in Edinburgh, UK.

    Sick days at a record high – we examine why

    Sick days at a record high – we examine why

    Posted on January 24th, 2024

    New research conducted by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggests UK workers are taking more sick days than at any point in the last decade. What’s causing this increase and what can employers do to address it? The Occupational Health experts at YourGP have the answers…

    The research and the results

    The large-scale CIPD study focused on 900 organisations and analysed the absence rates of more than 6.5 million employees. It found that staff took an average of 7.8 sick days in the past year, up from 5.8 before the pandemic.

    According to the research, the rise could be attributed to stress, covid and the cost-of-living crisis – all of which were having “profound impacts on many people’s wellbeing” concluded the CIPD.

    An employers’ duty of care

    Every employer has a duty of care to look after the health and wellbeing of their team members. It is therefore essential that employers are aware of any potential causes of workplace ill-health and intervene as early as possible to prevent any issues from escalating.

    With that in mind, here are some practical suggestions for addressing the key factors identified in the study:

    • Stress: Be mindful of employees’ workloads. Create an open and supportive culture of communication where employees can discuss any issues freely. Encourage regular breaks to enable workers to decompress, and be respectful of people’s work / life boundaries – for example by scheduling work emails to be sent during working hours only.
    • Covid: Despite the end of restrictions, covid still poses a significant risk to many people’s health. Be aware of ‘presenteeism’ amongst employees and encourage anyone with covid symptoms to stay at home until they feel better to reduce the risk of them passing it on to the rest of the workforce.
    • Cost-of-living crisis: From mortgages and energy bills, to groceries and fuel, prices have risen right across the board. This has undoubtably put extra pressure on many employees. Money worries can have a huge impact on a person’s mental health, and cutting back on essentials such as food and heating has the potential to have a significant negative effect on their physical health too. For these reasons, it is important that all employers are mindful of what employees might be experiencing in their personal lives. Have your wages increased at a fair rate? Would a switch to hybrid or remote working help employees reduce the cost of their commute? These are the kind of questions employers should be asking themselves.

    Managing sick days and the return to work

    It is important to remember that even healthy employees can and will get sick. The important thing is to manage their sickness absence as professionally as possible.

    • Record all sick days to help you identify any potential trends
    • Keep in contact with employees while they are absent
    • Set aside time for a ‘Return to work’ discussion to confirm if the employee is able to return to their usual duties
    • Be open to making any reasonable workplace adjustments to aid their return to work, for example adapting work equipment or adjusting working hours or location
    • Ensure your health and safety risk assessments are kept up to date in light of any new health issues

    Speak to YourGP

    If you would like to speak to an Occupational Health professional about ways you can reduce sickness absence in your workplace, you can make an appointment at YourGP.

    Simply call 0131 225 5656 or email and we’ll be happy to arrange an appointment at a time that suits you.

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    YourGP is regulated by Healthcare Improvement Scotland – the regulator for independent healthcare services across Scotland. Healthcare Improvement Scotland accepts complaints at any time. Contact them at:

    Independent Healthcare Team
    Gyle Square | 1 South Gyle Crescent | Edinburgh | EH12 9EB
    0131 623 4342 |

    YourGP is registered with the Joint Council of Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) Registered Office: Station Road, North Street, Havant PO9 1QU.